Rural Loft, Central Delaware.
Todd Mason / Halkin Photography

The Architectural League’s 31st annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the future direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture this month in Manhattan. The next lecture takes place on Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. when Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects and DIGSAU will present their work.


Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia-based DIGSAU, founded in 2007, has used collaboration as a generative tool for designing a wide variety of projects. The four principles— Mark Sanderson, Jules Dingle, Jamie Unkefer, and Jeff Goldstein—work as a team with support staff, what Sanderson calls “shuffling the deck” to distill down the core of each project, the materiality and its relationship to the landscape. “Since the beginning, we’ve been very much a place of transition and growth,” said Sanderson. “Our tools are fairly fundamental. Each project revolves around a potent idea—space, light, material—the emotional impact on people. They’re old-fashioned tools applied to modern problems.”

University of Delaware Campus Bookstore & Development Office, Newark, Delaware.
Todd Mason / Halkin Photography

Whether sites in the city or in a rural environment, DIGSAU carefully considers the projects connection with landscape and a building’s relationship between interior and exterior spaces. At the University of Delaware, DIGSAU adapted the traditional big-box form of a major bookstore, reshaping the suburban typology for an urban context serving both the university and surrounding city. Completed in 2011, the bookstore’s massing was reshaped to create an inviting pedestrian plaza. A single-story volume clad in textured brick containing the bookstore fits into a glass double-height lobby along the plaza, connecting the building to the landscape outside.

Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware (top); Expansion of Dogfish Head Brewery (above).
Pixelcraft; Courtesy DIGSAU / D.I.R.T. Collaboration

Similarly, a visitors center and café set inside Philadelphia’s Sister Cities Park, completed in 2012, mediates the urbanism along Benjamin Franklin Parkway with the new landscape. A dramatic cantilever with a vegetated roof hovers over an inset glass enclosure, bringing the landscape indoors. “As a response to context in shaping exterior space and relating it to interior space, the cantilever is an effective tool for space making,” Dingle said.

Sister Cities’ Park Visitors center, Philadelphia, PA.
Todd Mason / Halkin Photography

Currently, DIGSAU has returned to one of its original projects, the Dogfish Head Brewery in rural Delaware, where the firm built a new building in 2009 housing laboratory, office, and retail space. “We’re transitioning from a single building to a campus” at the rapidly expanding brewery, Dingle said. The new industrial campus plan will bridge scales on a single site, from massive warehouses to architectural follies. “With the industrial campus plan, some of the highest-level thinking has gone on at the landscape level,” Sanderson explained. “As architects, we tend to stress continuity of architecture and landscape, but we’ve found that working with landscape architects can bring up very different ideas.”

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